Writer: Brian Langtry
Director: Stephen Leatherland
Reviewer: Paul Bannister
The Public Reviews Rating:
For one night only – ‘Over the Rainbow: The Eva Cassidy Story’ arrives at the York Grand Opera House this week and looks to be a promising night out. 7 tours in a row – surely they must be doing something right. But does the show leave you feeling like you’re in a field of gold and needing tissues or will you want to drown your tears on the way out?
The Eva Cassidy story is exactly what it says in the title – a story about Eva Cassidy by Theatre Productions UK. It follows her life through dramatic scenes and stunning live renditions of her most infamous songs, Over the Rainbow is a haunting ode to one of music’s forgotten greats. It follows her life from the start of her musical career at the age of 18, she meets her boyfriend, and performs with Chuck Brown at the Blues Alley, it ends with her tragic and untimely death.
The play itself is very slow from beginning to end. The set is minimal, it has a backdrop that goes from floor to ceiling with a projected picture of the countryside, the stage is virtually empty. The acting leaves something to be desired, it is cringeworthy and corny in places and some of the scenes are over-acted. The only actor with any credible acting is the star of the show, Sarah Jayne Buckley who Plays Eva Cassidy. Her portrayal in the beginning, of a typical high school student wanting to follow her dreams is extremely convincing and her relationship with her father is convincing too, although her Fathers American accent is virtually none existent. Most of the actors’ American accents are poor which spoils the show, the only thing that saves the show is the superb accurate, spine-tingling songs.
The music is top notch, every note especially by Buckley is hit with precision and accuracy. The songs Over the Rainbow and True Colours left the audience wiping away tears. The speakers are overpowering and hiss in quiet scenes so the live band which plays in every other scene is a welcome relief.
The set leaves something to be desired. The projections of the place the scene is set are quite interesting, there are some lovely images, but the main projection screen is too big and is out shadowed by the follow spots almost to a point where the audience can’t see the images. The scene changes are not good, lights are out for too long, leaving actors talking in the dark, they are not smooth, sometimes nothing happens for 30 seconds, leaving the audience twiddling their thumbs.
A poorly executed show with a great soundtrack.